Aurora Perrineau Won’t Take Latina Roles… But Will Play Dark Skinned Black Women

October 18, 2019  |  

Aurora Perrineau

Source: Maro Hagopian with SiriusXM / Maro Hagopian with SiriusXM

When it comes to casting, there are more than a few people who don’t know what to do with actress Aurora Perrineau. In a recent interview with SiriusXM’s Clay Cane, she shared that people often mistake her for Latina. And while she has been offered several roles written for Latina actresses, she will not take them.

“Everyone thinks I’m Latina…I think in the casting world it’s like they want to know, are you black? Are you Latina? Are you white? They want to have like this clear thing because they think that audiences won’t understand how ethnically ambiguous the world is. So I get Latina a lot, which obviously I’m not going to take on a role of a Latina woman because I’m not Latina and that’s not the right thing to do. So I make it very clear that I’m not, and I normally don’t get the job, but I think it’s important for everyone to have representation and you shouldn’t be taking representation from someone else.”

Of course Perrineau is right not to accept any role designated for a Latina actress. It’s unfair to a community that has largely been under and misrepresented in American film and television. Kudos for that.

I just wish that she had this same understanding when it comes to darker skinned Black women.

Aurora Perrineau is Black. She has a Black father and a White mother. And she has said publicly that she has always identified and moved through the world as a Black woman.

But four years ago, in 2015, Perrineau became the center of controversy when she accepted the role of Shana in a remake of Jem and the Holograms. People were disappointed and even angered by the fact that Perrineau a lighter skinned Black woman had been chosen and accepted a role written for a darker complected, Afro-textured character. Both Aurora and her father, Best Man actor Harold Perrineau were confused by the backlash. And Harold defended his daughter against critics who he believed were saying she wasn’t “Black enough.”

Aurora later mentioned that she and her parents “didn’t see color” and that it wasn’t an issue they discussed in their home.

That was unfortunate. I think we know from years of discussion that not seeing color prevents us from embracing the beauty of difference. And in the case of Aurora, it kept her from seeing the ways in which her fellow Black sisters were being disenfranchised by an industry that prioritized women with lighter skin tones for certain roles.

So while I’m happy that Perrineau recognizes that she wouldn’t take a role from a Latina actress, I’m hoping in the four years since her Jem and the Holograms casting, she’s adopted that same policy for darker skinned Black women who experience this same lack of representation in tv and film.

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